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Camden New Journal - By TOM FOOT
Published: 27 March 2008
The Church is no joke, warns verger

St Giles-in-the-Field clergyman believes club antics are giving flock a bit of a bad name

IT is a tale of two churches: one promising altar wine and celestial redemption, the other cheap booze and strippers.
On Sunday mornings in Highgate Road, Kentish Town, the faithful congregation of The Church – a day-long marathon of raucous comedy and drinking games at the Forum nightclub – can be found, often peppered with schoolgirl outfits and beer bellies.
Although few would deny that faith takes many guises, the club’s legendary sessions – where each week thousands of clubbers from across London convene to “cleanse their souls with gallons of beer” – have finally worn thin the Christian patience of their namesake.
This week the verger at St Giles-in-the-Field in Holborn warned organisers of the event, which runs under the principle “you cannot be forgiven until you have sinned”, that “the Church joke had gone too far”.
Michael Hennessey, who has been at the historic Grade I-listed church for 10 years, said: “It doesn’t really look good if you are strolling around Kentish Town on Sunday and you are confronted by people wearing T-shirts that say ‘Church Wardens’ that are behaving in a way that is not very church-like.
“I think it gives my church a bit of a bad name.
“People don’t want to see that sort of thing on a Sunday afternoon.”
The Church event started in 1979 in Fulham Broadway before coming to Tottenham Court Road punk and rock venue Busby’s in 1990.
After a brief stint at The Dome in Tufnell Park and in King’s Cross, it took up residence in the Forum four-and-a-half years ago.
Manager Julian Molteno said: “We have been called The Church for a long time now. It was because the event runs on Sundays. The Church Wardens, who are doormen, are part of the theme.
“Most people who live in Kentish Town know about our church, and I don’t think they would be too confused.
“The problem is that we have many customers leaving on Sunday afternoon around 3.30pm.
“We make a tremendous effort to make sure they leave quietly.
“Everyone is given a flyer when they come in saying they are in a residential area.”
He added: “We have Church Wardens stretching down to McDonald’s and standing outside the Tube station.
“Sometimes the doormen have to physically remove people but on the whole I make sure I employ doormen who can talk and can take control of a situation without violence.
“Doormen get a bad press – the old image of them is outdated.”

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